The parsha begins with retelling how Pinchas calmed the wrath of Hashem and how he stood up for the Ribono Shel Olams kovod. Rashi comments (25; 13) ”Although the kehunah had already been given to Aaron’s descendants, it had been given only to Aaron and his sons who were anointed with him, and to their children whom they would beget after their anointment. Pinchus, however, who was born before that and had never been anointed, had not been included in the kehunah until now. And so, we learn in Zevachim (101b),“Pinchus was not made a kohen until he killed Zimri.”
The entire gemara seems puzzling. If Hashem had chosen to give the kehuna to Aaron’s family, why not make his descendants kohanim automatically?
Rav Mordechai Druk, ztl, offers a beautiful idea.
The behavior of Pinchas was an important lesson in life itself. Every single day Aaron and his sons would wake up and begin to perform the avodah. Pinchus would stand there and watch his father, uncles and grandfather doing the avodah. He would be yearning inside to do the avodah himself, but Hashem hadn’t afforded him the opportunity. It would seem as if there was nothing worse he could have happened to him, standing there and watching others do what he had hoped to do himself- yet he couldn’t do it.
However, we know that there is a halacha that a kohen who kills someone is pasul from performing the avodah. So had he been allowed to do the avodah prior to this event he would have lost that privilege to do it once he killed Zimri! Therefore, Hashem waited until now to ‘award’ him, and his descendants, with the kehuna.
A person can live forty years thinking his lot in life is miserable. They can’t understand why Hashem isn’t giving them a chance or why He hadn’t awarded them an opportunity. But in reality it’s for their benefit, they just don’t know it yet. Forty years later they finally understood. Tosafos in Zevachim says that every single kohen thereafter was a direct descendant of Pinchus and had Pinchus been anointed sooner he would’ve been pasul.
Just because we don’t understand it today doesn’t mean it’s not for our best interest. We’re not able to comprehend it yet. Hashem knows best and he has it all planned out for us.
The following parable can help us understand this concept a bit clearer.
Imagine you are watching a magician perform some of his tricks. There are times when he will perform bigger tricks and then times when he may do smaller tricks. The older a person gets the more they are trying to figure out how he manipulated them. Was there something up his sleeve? Was it behind his ear? We’re trying fervently to figure it out but we have no clue what he did. Suddenly he pulls something out of nowhere and has the crowd gasping in awe. It’s at that point that this magician earns the most respect.
This is perhaps how we can try to have an understanding of how Hashem acts. Many times He will do things that we don’t understand but it’s up to us to realize that the more we don’t understand what’s going on, the greater Hashem has to be in your eyes. As we realize this-that Hashem obviously knows what’s best for all of us -we will no doubt view Him as we should: as the King of all kings who has lived, lives and will live forever.
May we all be zoche.